Handicap Improvements - Your story

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Nice and simple

When did you first start playing golf - join and club etc

What was your first HC

What is your HC now

Along the way what have you used to improve

Lessons ? Videos ? Books etc

Myself


I first started properly in 2009 - joined my current club ( played the odd society day before )

My first 3 cards gave me a HC of 24

I could hit a ball well because of a hockey and cricket background but no idea about alignment etc

I’m currently at 1.2

The years in between I watched loads of vids , played a lot of pro ams and watched how a pro hit the ball , I then swapped jobs to go on shift and that allowed me to play a lot more and just go to the range and try things

I got stuck around 12 for a while and then got fitted for new clubs and then seemed to get me down to 5
 

evemccc

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Good idea for a thread

Started about 4 years ago
Became obsessed (though slightly less obsessed recently)

HCAP started at 18, now at 12…I am optimistic of getting to single figures but I won’t be terribly disappointed if I’m already at my ‘ceiling’, because I learnt a couple of years ago that I really like playing nice courses and hitting good shots more than shooting a low score….don’t practice that much and don’t practice what I ought anything like enough (putting🤪)

I’ve had lessons and playing lessons, spent plenty of time watching YouTube lessons also — I’m a ‘happy’ golfer in that I have never been angry with my game / bored of golf for a single second whilst being on the course

Naively/arrogantly/optimistically I think I am better than my handicap — but I’m realistic enough to know that the handicap and score card doesn’t lie!!

I like almost everything about the game (though maybe not everything about all golfers🤣🤣)
 

HomerJSimpson

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Learned to play Summer 1976
Joined Wimbledon Common as junior 1977
Handicap dropped from 24 - 6 between 79-81
Worked as shop assistant 1981-83 - handicap dropped to 4 (wanted to start PGA course)

Drifted away and handicap up to 9 when I stopped c 1988

Came back to golf 1993 - rejoined Wimbledon Common - handicap 12
Moved to Bracknell - Jojned Royal Ascot 1996 - first handicap 15
Stopped 2003 to look after mum
Rejoined Royal Ascot 2004 - handicap 12

Lowest at Royal Ascot 10.1
Current 13.5

Definitely feel game is in better place and looking to get to 11-12 this year. Sadly the body and health not as good as it has been so more chance of physical limitations halting progress than any desire to improve as much as I can
 

Imurg

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First played in 1989/90 with guys from the cricket club..I'd played pitch'n'putt on holidays and seaside putting greens etc but not "properly".
Fragger had been playing for longer and took e to Wexham Park nr Slough for my first 18...shot 139.
Started going to the local cheap course and shot 3 rounds of 110, 105 and 101.
Decided that I was going to do this but didn't think I was good enough to join a club..so spent a whole winter on the range every Sunday morning working out how to do it
No Internet or YT or anything else, a few magazine articles..
By the March of 94 I was ready..
Joined and played a Medal for my first handicap card.
Par 68, SSS 65 and I shot 80
The other 2 cards were OK but no better and my first handicap was 15. It went up to 15.3 but then started coming down and I was single figures within 2 years and that's where I've been ever since.
Managed to get down to 4.3 last year, currently hovering around 6.
Entirely self-taught, never had a lesson except a free 30 minute one when I joined the club ( lasted 10 minutes) to stop me tilting on the backswing.
Over the last 3 years I've been playing my best and most consistent golf ever.
Don't think I've done too bad in 30 years.... ;)
 

Neilds

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I'm impressed that people can remember their scores and handicaps from so long ago! Without looking I couldn't remember scores from last year, and certainly couldn't visualise what I did in the round to make that score.
 

Mel Smooth

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Played a bit as a kid at Dewsbury when I was in my early teens handicap never got much below 28
Rejoined the same club as a midweek member in the 90’s when I worked shifts - got down to low 20’s and shot a 77 which was my best score and still is. Didn’t play many comps though so getting the hcap down wasn’t something I was too focussed on. After about 3 years I sacked the membership off as the shift work came to an end.
Joined my current club about 10 years back, had a gap of 4 years in that membership when I was in Spain. Handicap is currently 16.5 - I think I can get it down to low teens, but to get it any lower I’d have to be submitting scores on an easier course. Started having fairly regular lessons about a year ago, which have definitely helped my game.

In between the memberships I’ve played occasional casual golf, sometimes just once a year, sometimes more.
 
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I started playing "golf" at a very young age; crazy golf at about 3 and pitch & putt at 7.
I learnt how to do it by watching TV (Faldo, Woosie & Seve mainly). My Dad took me for a lesson at 10, the Pro said there was nothing he could teach me (he was obviously a poor teacher).
I joined Kedleston Park GC aged 11, obtaining a handicap of 28 (the maximum at the time), I eventually managed to play to it, and with lessons from a different coach got down to 9.8.
At approx 18 I discovered wine, women & song and basically gave up golf.
I started playing occasional charity events with work and joined Ashbourne GC aged about 25. Then with lessons from Chris Ryan at the Belfry got down to 5.
I enjoyed playing more & more and return to Kedleston. With lessons from the club Pro, Ian Walley, and some from Nick Huby at Pete Cowan's in Rotherham I have now got down to 2.7 (2.2 has been my lowest since the new handicaps came in).
I enjoy playing but struggle with a very bad back, had a couple of years with a chest issue and rarely/never practice.

Essentially I'm a pretty good weekend warrior - but imagine if I could putt :unsure: 😂
 

nickjdavis

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First played in around 1995.

Joined my first club in around 2001....first handicap was around 23.

Got down to around to 6/7 in around 2009/10, stayed around that level until about 2017, saw an increase between 2018 and 2020 to around 14 after buying some game improvement clubs as I felt my irons were getting a bit too much for me!! Then (after reverting back to the irons i previously had) back to 9 and last year a slight increase to 10.2.

To be fair my biggest "step improvements" (other than dumping the GI irons) have been in the spring after spending a concerted effort down the range in preceding dark winter months.

Covid hasnt helped a great deal as I now pretty much work 95% from home....as such my daily commute is non existent, whereas previously it would take me past the course and the range...affording me the opportunity for a round or a bit of practice on my way home from work.

This year I plan to force myself out of the current "stagnating routine" and will make a concerted effort to get to the range, practise more and maybe have a couple of lessons.

I've never read magazines for tips....the spectrum of advice is often contradictory and confusing. I am of the opinion that a golfer should only have one teacher at any one time, so its generally been a case of finding a local pro who's teaching style matches my learning style and who works with the natural physical attributes that a short, overweight, inflexible bloke in his late 50's has...rather than trying to get me to swing like Tiger.

If I can get myself back down to 7 or 8 this year then it will be a job well done.
 

Orikoru

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I had one of the beginner group lessons when I was 14 or 15 - so 2000 or 2001. Can't remember what they taught me but they got me hitting balls anyway. So I used to go and play nine holes with my mum and dad for a few years. Rarely ever 18, probably as my mum didn't fancy that.

By the time I got my early 20s I wasn't really playing anymore. Once I moved out the weekends were about football and drinking and there was almost a decade where I maybe played once or twice a year if that.

As I was approaching 30 in 2016 I started thinking that football won't last forever and I need something to keep the competitive spirit going into middle age and beyond - got back into playing again and somehow got the bug for it like never before. I found out one of my mates that I'd known for years through my wife used to play and said he'd be up for getting back into it - plus my best mate who had been to Top Golf a few times said he was up for buying clubs and giving it ago, so we had a three-ball.

After playing regularly for a year me and one of the aforementioned mates (the one who had played before) decided to join a cheap local club at a public course - the beginner one didn't because the max handicap was still 28 and he couldn't play to that at the time so he decided to wait another year. My first handicap given was 24 (and my mate's 17).

I've had barely any lessons since those beginner ones. Had one in 2021 because it was given to me as a Christmas gift - in all honesty it wasn't very in depth and didn't change anything. I had one putting lesson at the end of 2021 as well. Aside from that no lessons until finally having one two weeks ago. Reason being that last year was the first time I'd gone up in handicap rather than down (from 13.5 to 14.7).

Aside from lessons I have picked up bits from YouTube tuition over the years, but not one of those where you try and watch absolutely everything - I've tried to pick out bits that seem applicable to me. I have also read a couple of books on the mental side, and short game. Finally having a proper lesson this year was actually a big step for me, as I've always been someone who just wants to relax, enjoy the game and improve organically rather than having a lot of swing thoughts in my head - just thought it was about time to try a different approach.
 

BiMGuy

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Started playing at 18. Had only hit maybe 5 golf balls in my life beforehand and they were in a field.

I went with my then girlfriend to the play Calverley 9 hole pay and play in the middle of summer with her dads clubs. Having waited in line for over an hour watching people hit all sorts of shots, it was finally my turn. I clearly remember the first shot. It was with a Callaway Big Bertha Heaven Wood and was flushed high and straight down the middle. And I was hooked.

Predictably the rest of the round went as one would expect given it was my first time on a golf course.

I played every day that week and by the end of the week I had bought a set of clubs and all the gear.

The following spring I joined the club as it was cheap and got my handicap of 28. I didn’t play in many comps as I didn’t know anyone so later that summer I joined the same club as my FiL and BiL.

That week I entered the midweek medal off 28 and won it. Got pulled to 24.
Then entered the weekend Stableford the following Saturday. Won that and got pulled to 22.
By the end of the season I’d got down to just under 18.
By the end of the following year I was nearly in single figures.
I then had a season hovering around 8 before getting down to 5 the following year.

I played a lot, 2 or 3 times during the week and often 54 holes at the weekend. Constant chipping practice in the garden and putting in the house.
I did very little range work.

Then I had a bad injury to my left ankle and never quite got my swing back.
Work and life got in the way and I went back up to 7 before hanging up the clubs for 12 years.

At the time I was obsessed with getting my handicap down but had no real understanding of how to go about it. I was lucky in that I played a lot with scratch and plus handicap players. At the time it didn’t occur to me that their scoring was lower than mine due to the fact they could hit the ball a lot further than I could. I was taught to play slow and steady, which I now know hindered my scoring ability. I also fired at every pin and took on the most ridiculous escapes.

My ball striking and short game was good enough to get me to scratch, but I had grooved a swing that I was unable to generate much distance with. Despite hitting more fairways than everyone I played with I was often out scored by the lower guys who hit it further.

If I had access to something like strokes gained or DECAE back then I think I could have been much lower.

I also let bad rounds annoy me for a long time.

Roll on 12 years and I picked the stick up again. This will be my 4th year back playing and my 3rd regularly.

My first 3 cards back got me a an index of 16.8 and I have been on a slow trajectory down to my current 6.7.

I now have a much better understanding of strategy and have better expectations.
I’m working on my swing to get my ball striking with my irons in a better place, but I’m still lacking distance. Age and injury are not helping.

So I’ve started a stretching and basic strength improvement routine which I hope will help a bit. But I know there is a lot more I could be doing if time allowed.

I think with no other improvements another 10 yards off the tee and half a club with my irons would easily see me under a 5 index.

My poor rounds now seem to be just into the 80s rather than the mid to high 80s and my lower rounds are trending towards par rather then mid 70s.

In truth, I don’t care what my index is. A lot of people are obsessed by it and it almost defines them (I was once like that) now I play to enjoy the grind of shooting the best score I can every time I play. And as long as I know I’ve tried on every shot and not thrown in the towel I am happy, regardless of the score.
 

Bratty

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Great thread, @Liverpoolphil!

The first time I swung a club was on a pitch and putt in Sidcup, Kent with some mates, aged 19. I got a 7 on every hole and decided that was the sport for me!
I then started playing the 9 hole par 3 course and having lessons with a pro at Chelsfield Lakes, Kent. I spent a lot on lessons, a good bit of time on the course, and very little time doing any Uni work at all! I didn't play an 18 hole course for 18 months and can still remember how nervous I was standing on the first tee!
We played a good bit of social golf at local munis/pay and plays, golf holidays and such for years, but always sporadically (when AND how I played!). I once had a chance to break 80 at Chelsfield Lakes, needing a par at the last for a 79. Tee shot in the water to finish double bogey and 81! I still have the scorecard. ON the flip side, I broke 100 at Valderrama in my first few years of golf which was an amazing feeling!

My first handicap was 21, when I joined Westerham Golf Club, Kent in 2006. A really tight, undulating course which put a premium on position/accuracy, not length. they've cleared a lot of trees in the past 3 years, which has made the course a little easier, but still has plenty of teeth! Joining a club has really helped me focus on my golf and I've steadily improved over the last 17 years, I had a few blips where I shot up after a period of coming down, and that really frustrated me. After a 113 in an August medal, I toyed with the idea of giving up as I'd completely lost my way, too many swing thoughts and processes going on. Didn't play, have a lesson or anything for three weeks and then September's medal shot 84 off 14 and won the damn thing! Golf is weird!

My handicap now is 8.1, the lowest I've ever been and pretty much play to it most rounds, so happy enough, but would love to get a bit lower (PH of 5-7 would be great). One reason I'm sure I'm lower than ever was being fitted properly for a driver that has seen my side to side dispersion narrow considerably to keep the ball in play far more. Ping G425 SFT has cost me 10 yards distance, but I am rarely 3 off the tee and can almost always advance the ball a god distance for the second shot. It's changed my game (and frustration) immensely.

I've had lessons with various coaches over the years, Chelsfield Lakes, Westerham GC, an indoor golf lab at Canary Wharf and Hilden driving range (opposite my house, which is handy). Hilden also has a scrubby but satisfactory 9 hole for £20 unlimited golf a month. 2 neighbours and I spent 3 mornings a week at 7am after 1st lockdown playing there, which I think has undoubtedly helped. the coach now puts things in a language I can understand is isn't bothered about trying to get me to hit a draw, which was all the rage when I first started. Coaching does seem to have changed over the years with less emphasis on a text-book swing and more emphasis on working with the swing you have and optimising it - that's my experience at least.
I tend not to use YouTube, as if I'm unsure of the fault, it can be a rabbit hole and destructive! That said, some of the short game stuff, chipping and pitching by Dan Grieves has been useful and insightful.
A book I swear by when I feel wobbles is Golf is not a game of perfect by Dr Bob Rotella. It's really helpful to remind me it's just a game, and everyone has issues sometimes.

Speaking of swearing, I went through a phase of being a VERY angry and sweary golfer. Smiffy was worried we were going to get thrown off St. Melion and Pieman asked never to play with me at meets! I think there was a direct correlation between the state of my golf and the language I used. My golf has got a hell of a lot better now I'm not angry and sweary, but is that because I'm playing better, or am I playing better because I'm not angry and sweary? Don't know, but some folks on the forum can attest to my changed behaviour!
 

SteveW86

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I think it was my uncle who first took me to the range when I was younger, but sailing was my main sport so it didnt really ever have a look in other than the odd range visit with mates and occasional round. Joined my first club in 2016, around the same time I signed up to the forum and played mainly social golf with the occasional meet up with people from the forum. A year or so later, getting married, moving house and having a baby put a stop to golf for a 2 or 3 years.

Rejoined a club late 2020 and EG tells me my first handicap in the new system was 21.1, 1 round later it was 14.9. Fluctuated a little bit, but then has pretty steadily come down. Hit a low point of 10.2 at the end of the summer, but it now sits at 10.7.

I can play well, just need to cut out the bad shots.
 

AddisonRoad

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Learned to play Summer 1976
Joined Wimbledon Common as junior 1977
Handicap dropped from 24 - 6 between 79-81
Worked as shop assistant 1981-83 - handicap dropped to 4 (wanted to start PGA course)

Drifted away and handicap up to 9 when I stopped c 1988

Came back to golf 1993 - rejoined Wimbledon Common - handicap 12
Moved to Bracknell - Jojned Royal Ascot 1996 - first handicap 15
Stopped 2003 to look after mum
Rejoined Royal Ascot 2004 - handicap 12

Lowest at Royal Ascot 10.1
Current 13.5

Definitely feel game is in better place and looking to get to 11-12 this year. Sadly the body and health not as good as it has been so more chance of physical limitations halting progress than any desire to improve as much as I can

Why did you end up deciding against the PGA course? I've started golf too late to be able to do it (and I'm too bad), but I've always been jealous of those who had an opportunity to. Might do a rules course instead, lol
 

Slab

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Dabbled with occasional golf as young adult but not enough to consider it a hobby. Didn’t see much of the fairways

Started dabbling more regularly about 15 years ago on muni course but not close to breaking the ton or joining comps. Wildly slicing and did nothing to fix it & couldn’t hit it very far anyway
Moved overseas for work and the quality & difficulty of courses were another level & was like starting over & breaking the ton seemed miles off
Figured out how to ‘play’ with my slice & eventually broke hundred. Handicap stayed in the low 20’s year after year, having fun but not improving out with the odd day in the sun

I tinker a lot with stance, swing, grip, ball position etc, always looking for a golden ticket but honestly being a fat fella that got breathless on an escalator was the biggest part of the slice & distance problem.

Lost a bucket of weight in 2nd lockdown, got a wee bit of fitness. Practice twice a week with a lot more focus & playing weekly all helped get my handicap down to 14.5 and shot a best of 81 on xmas eve

Saved most shots by hitting it straighter off the tee and improving my chipping, putting’s never been the worst part of my game, dunno if there’s more to come but I’d love to break 80 just once
 

Bdill93

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Took up golf just after Covid to fill a football sized hole in my life (prem was cancelled and I was bored)

Been playing close to 4 years now!

First handicap was 19 - we played absolutely loads of golf for the first 2 years, in the first year we got 18 holes in almost every night after work because it was such a great summer.

Handicap has slowly tumbled down in the right direction, I'm currently off 12.6.

My largest issue has always been that my course is very easy to score well on, therefore our handicaps are slightly lower than they actually should be. I feel like I'm closer to a 14 from another club.

Don't play as much golf over winter as I once did, I'm more fair weather these days but come summer ill be playing a lot again with hopes of maybe cracking my best round of 6 over gross.
 

Dando

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started playing on the local pitch n putt aged 9 or 10 and got my first true tests of golf with my dad on the 9 holer at Lullingstone and Royal Magpie

played probably twice a week for a number of years while at school and got quite good.

i was better at cricket which took over my life so I only played golf a handfull of times a year and played off of 18.

joined a club almost 2 years ago and currently off of 6.

only had 1 lesson in my life but the improvements have been through playing and practicing more and have some idea of how to chip/pitch as that had always been my weakness.

Met some great people over the years while playing and some of them are even on this forum 🤣
 

chico

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I never really played but a lot of my friends are in a society and would always invite me along. At a loose end one weekend I went with a set of clubs I think @Crow would have liked, blades circa 1970s. Had a nightmare went round in about 130 odd however I flushed a 5 iron from around 180 yards to 2 foot. That one shot got me hooked on golf otherwise I don't think I'd have played again.
First h/c was 23, lowest 9.4 and currently 14.
My biggest problem with scoring is being wild off the tee if I could sort that I think I could stay in single figures.
 

HPIMG

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I took up golf October 2020 at 39 now 42 and having never played golf before I had been to a driving range twice with a friend years before so complete novice.

Got 6 lessons to see if I liked golf and went to the range 2/3 times weekly for a month then joined a club.

Put in 3 cards pretty much right away got handicap of 42 end of first year I was 24 and wanted to be a 18 handicap so much.

Now I’m 5.3 and wanting to get to scratch before I get old lol
I watch quite a bit of YouTube and have weekly lessons every week for past 3 years. Lessons have helped but think when I’ve seen big improvements in my game it’s more stuff I’ve figured out myself while practicing.

I played every weekday and recently got my 9 year old into golf so come summer I’ll get out 7 days and use him as an excuse to play weekends.

I love golf a wish I had started when I was young.

I plan to hopefully get my son right into golf and hopefully he gets the bug and can be a good golfer.

I have started videos of him playing to keep a sort of record of him improving

 

Swango1980

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First handicap 20 in 2005. First competition was a right off (club champs, first 2 tee shots OB, 5 off the tee into water hazard). Then had a chipping lesson. Second competition, Nett 60 and won by a mile, HCP moved to 18.

First few years I was 15-17, and the absolute danger man for the clubs handicap league team (Max HCP 17).

Few annual reviews and decent comps over next few years, got it down to 10-12.

Then got a Garmin watch for Xmas. Rather than work out yardage to green, I now knew it. Despite still hitting bad shots, it meant my good shots were no longer punished by being miles short or long simply by misjudging distance. HCP plummeted to 6, without any real improvements in my swing at all.

I'll always say I'm such a bad ball striker, so I struggle to hit greens in regulation. Even from pitch shots. When I got to 6, it was basically because I could hit it a decent distance off tee, and my chipping was unbelievable. I preferred a chip to a long putt any day of the week. So I could shoot low 70's, even if I only hit 2-3 greens in reg. As long as I leave myself chips and not pitches. I'll never get lower than that, as I'll never hit enough greens to give myself the birdies you need.

My chipping has slackened in last few years, as I don't play as much. So my Index if now up at 9.3. Not sure if I'll have the time or patience to try and work on my ball striking to really think I may drive that down significantly again in the future.
 

Neilds

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I'm impressed that people can remember their scores and handicaps from so long ago! Without looking I couldn't remember scores from last year, and certainly couldn't visualise what I did in the round to make that score.
 
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